Calorie Quality vs. Calorie Quantity

A big debate in the world of weight-loss involves discussing the importance of what we eat verses how much we eat. In other words which is more important? The quality of our calories or the quantity of them? The short answer is both!

Quality of calories are super important. In order to grasp why, we must understand that not all calories are created equal. For example, calories coming from protein are useful because they help preserve lean muscle mass. In addition, protein is what all the body’s vital organs are made of. Calories from protein are useful as protein is the fundamental building block of our body.

Fats are another macronutrient which provide value to the body. We tell our patients to take two spoons of olive oil daily. This fat paired with the animal fat they get from their protein acts as a catalyst to get the body into a fat burning mode. It’s important to know that we recommend people get only 10% of their calories from fat during the weight-loss phase. After all if we expose the body to too much external fat, then it will be less likely to use its own body fat as an energy source.

Carbohydrates are also a macronutrient which the body can use for energy. For the purpose of weight-loss consuming calories from carbohydrates will hinder the entire process. High carb intake will cause the pancreas to produce elevated insulin levels. If insulin levels are high the body will seek external sugar for a source of energy as opposed to its own body fat. Meaning the more carbs an individual eats, the less weight they will lose. In some cases, they will even gain weight.

People will gain weight if they consume more calories than they burn. This principle stands strong regardless of the quality of the calories. So even when people eat high protein and low carb food, if they eat too much they will gain weight. It works vice versa as well. If people eat less calories than their body burns they will lose weight.

The reason quality of calories is important is because they determine where this weight-loss is coming from. Meaning if people eat 800 calories of junk food a day, while their body burns 1200 calories a day naturally, they will likely lose muscle. However if this same person incorporates a healthy amount of protein into their diet, cuts carbs, yet stays in a caloric deficit, they will retain their muscle while burning fat. With the above information it is safe to say that both quality and quantity of calories are important for healthy weight-loss.

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